The Q&A Archives: Lilac Never Blooms

Question: I have an approximately seven year old common Lilac that is about 6 ft. tall on the West side of my house that has never bloomed. It was started by digging up suckers from another bush. It has been healthy except for a little powdery mildew late in the season. I have fertilized it with 5-10-5 and put compost around it. The only thing I can think of is it doesn't get enough light on the west side of the house. Any other suggestions would be appreciated!

Answer: Lilacs are usually dependable landscape plants, but sometimes the environmental conditions aren't quite right for them to put on their spectacular displays of flowers in the spring. Lilacs prefer a sunny location and alkaline soil. In order to bloom profusely, they require a pronounced winter chill. This explains why some years the lilac blossoms are so abundant and other years they're sparce. You may be coddling your lilac too much - they tolerate droughty conditions in late summer, and it usually strengthens the plant and makes it more vigorous. Try pruning your lilac back a bit, to encourage new stems (and hopefully some blossom buds!), and don't fertilize it this year. Fertilizer will promote a flush of green growth, sometimes at the expense of blossoms. Supply only about an inch of water per week to your lilac this summer. By next spring it should be ready to bloom for you.

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